Executive director Shannon Mulholland's emergency response experience with Unicef and the International Rescue Committee was greatly needed this month after the devastating earthquake hit Haiti. The Coffee Connections Project therefore temporarily put operations on hold and Shannon went to help the American Refugee Committee (ARC) plan, set up, and manage a refugee camp for internally displaced people near the Dominican Republic border.
She spent close to a month on the ground, first in the Dominican Republic and then in Fonds Parisien where the ARC set up a camp able to shelter up to 1,000 people—mostly those requiring post-operative care and their families.
Her day-to-day activities included building shelters, digging latrines, distributing food and water, setting up an office from which to manage ARC's operations, and soliciting funding. She raised over $2 million in financial and in-kind donations from various donors on the ground. She also spent a large part of each day providing support, counseling and a shoulder to cry on for earthquake survivors who had lost everything—family members, limbs, their sense of security, and ensuring security and assistance was provided to women who had recently given birth.
She was constantly escorted by a gaggle of children, whose parents or relatives were staying in the camp.
Just 10 minutes from the gates of the Village is a compound where Shannon Mulholland of the American Refugee Committee tries to heal some of the emotional wounds caused by the earthquake. Once a patient is discharged, they may be transferred to the camp to be reunited with family members and start the long road to normalcy. The compound supports 115 survivors, including three pregnant women and 10 children younger than a month old.
“Here in Haiti they have nothing,” Mulholland said. “Our goal is to provide shelter and support. The hospital rehabilitates limbs. We want to rehabilitate lives.”
Shannon is now back in New York and looking forward to ramping up sales of Safi Coffee, and looking for new distribution channels and partners. Watch this space for exciting developments over the next few months.